Corruption Watch: Nursing a sick healthcare sector back to health
Corruption in the healthcare sector has life-threatening effects on those who desperately need these services.
COVID-19 has exposed the precarious state of the public healthcare system in South Africa on a shocking scale.
In 2019, as in preceding years, the system continued to deteriorate, with services all but completely collapsed across many fronts and in many provinces. This vulnerable situation sent authorities into a desperate scramble when the pandemic struck.
Corruption poses a threat to the realisation of our constitutional right to health in South Africa and is a major factor in malfunctioning or non-existent health services in South Africa. It has contributed significantly to the healthcare system’s decline, through irregular expenditure, financial misconduct, theft, illegal sharing of patients’ medical data to third parties, moonlighting and nepotism, to name some of the types of corruption brought to Corruption Watch’s attention during this year alone.
The perpetrators of corrupt acts, shamelessly abusing their positions and responsibilities, are often high-ranking managerial officials, administrators and medical professionals (doctors and nurses) and companies that provide services and products or are seeking to do so.
Since our inception in 2012, Corruption Watch has received around 670 reports from whistle-blowers about corruption in the healthcare sector. Our focus on corruption in the health sector remains a high priority for 2020, and even more so with the arrival of COVID-19 and the obvious need for fast, transparent contracting to obtain the necessary PPEs and medication that our health services require to attend to the rising numbers of infected patients.
During this time of the health pandemic, we as an organisation are particularly concerned about the possibilities of corruption and fraud within the public and private health sectors, and its life-threatening effects on those who desperately need these services.
The context of a global pandemic only places additional strain on an already struggling and faltering public healthcare system that has so often been found wanting in its ability to address the basic healthcare needs of the population. Had there been no misappropriation or theft of resources, South Africa would have likely been in a better position to confront the pandemic without having to institute such strict measures and regulations.
Fighting corruption starts with you!